Projecting Which Under-the-Radar Rookies Will Make Biggest Impacts in 2013-14
There might be some sneaky rookies taken outside the lottery with a chance to make an impact right away.
Some of these guys came out of nowhere in preseason after entering it with little expectations. One guy wasn't even drafted and now has a shot to be a starter.
They may not be competing for Rookie of the Year, but these under-the-radar newcomers should be able to crack their respective rotations and do some damage in 2013-14.
Tim Hardaway Jr., New York Knicks
Given how deep New York's backcourt is, you wouldn't think Tim Hardaway Jr. had a shot at cracking this rotation.
The rookie out of Michigan was lights out in preseason, even getting coach Mike Woodson to mention that minutes for Hardaway Jr. would be available.
He knocked down 44 three-pointers through seven exhibition games at a 40-percent clip. While there might be questions surrounding his overall game, there aren't any regarding his jumper—Hardaway can stroke with confidence and range.
This year, the Knicks could use him as a specialist off the bench to help spread the floor and knock down shots. You probably won't see too much dribbling from Hardaway Jr. this season, but his ability to catch and shoot from 27 feet should be valued in this particular lineup.
He's also an excellent athlete who can finish above the rim or with touch on the move.
In a limited role for the Knicks, Hardaway Jr. should be able to make an impact as a long-range shooter and open-floor weapon. And with J.R. Smith on a five-game suspension to start the year, the rookie could hear his name called sooner rather than later.
Vitor Faverani, Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics might have found a hidden gem after fishing in the Spanish League and reeling in Vitor Faverani.
He went undrafted a few years back and has been playing in Spain ever since. But he'll wear green in 2013-14 for a team with plenty of minutes to go around. There's actually a good chance he'll lock down the starting position right away.
Faverani gives Boston it's only real true center, considering fellow rookie Kelly Olynyk isn't much of a defender or rebounding presence.
He had standout preseason, finishing strong with a 15-point, seven-rebound, six-block effort against Brooklyn. Faverani also proved he can shoot the rock, nailing three three-pointers throughout exhibition play.
A nobody just a few months ago, Faverani is on the verge of becoming an NBA name to know. The Celtics might not be very good this year, but that shouldn't stop the Brazilian big man from establishing his presence in the league.
Archie Goodwin, Phoenix Suns
Despite hearing 28 names called before him in the 2013 NBA draft, Archie Goodwin might have one of the biggest roles of any rookie in his class.
The Suns dealt away three guards before the season in Shannon Brown, Kendall Marshall and Malcolm Lee. That should leave Goodwin with plenty of minutes to work with as one of the first guys off the bench.
He's shown flashes through summer league and preseason, though a shaky jumper has kept him from scoring with any real consistency. Goodwin excels at hitting driving lanes and attacking the rim, with explosive athleticism and legit 2-guard size.
If he can knock down some open shots, as well as the ones he creates for himself in the mid-range, Goodwin should be capable of becoming a significant offensive factor.
He probably won't win any efficiency awards this season, but with Phoenix in tank mode, Goodwin will have a great chance to make an impact as a rookie.
Tony Snell, Chicago Bulls
Given Tony Snell's strengths and Chicago's lack of depth on the wing, Tony Snell figures to get some burn as a rookie.
At 6'7'' with a lengthy 6'11'' wingspan, Snell has some good-looking defensive tools along with an accurate stroke from downtown.
He's flashed some nice signs in limited preseason action, most notably against Detroit, when he went for 12 points, four assists, three steals and two threes in 25 minutes.
Chicago isn't likely to overcomplicate things for Snell in the regular season. In a 10-15 minute role, he'll be asked to defend the perimeter and spread the floor on offense.
Word is that Snell put on 18 pounds of muscle since draft day, which should make him a little more NBA-ready for the physical transition. With Mike Dunleavy the only backup wing on the roster, Chicago could use Snell's athleticism, shot-making and defense in its second unit.
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
It would be a crime for the Jazz not to experiment with Rudy Gobert, who opened eyes and turned heads in limited preseason action.
Gobert grabbed 12 boards and blocked five shots in only 20 minutes against the Clippers, before going off for 16 points, nine boards and three blocks against the Lakers.
He's simply an incredible target in the paint thanks to an unprecedented 7'9'' wingspan. Gobert's 7'2'' size, ridiculous length and strong hand-eye coordination allow him to catch and finish just about anything around the rim.
Defensively, he covers a ton of ground, with the ability block or contest shots while out of position.
Between his ability to protect the rim and pick up easy buckets on offense, Gobert should be a secret weapon off Utah's bench this season.
Dennis Schroeder, Atlanta Hawks
I've got a feeling Dennis Schroeder is going to make it awfully tough for the Hawks to keep him limited in a part-time role.
Though the consistency hasn't been there in preseason, Schroeder looks the part and has the tools to make an immediate impact. He finished his last exhibition test with 21 points and four assists, looking comfortable operating as the primary ball-handler.
Schroeder is constantly in facilitating mode, using the dribble to manipulate the defense in an attempt to set up teammates for scoring opportunities. Ultra quick off the bounce, Schroeder shows good vision and passing instincts when creating in the half court.
He's tough to keep up with laterally, and with a promising jumper in the works, he might be even harder to stay in front of when defenders are forced to challenge him on the perimeter.
Atlanta's backcourt is somewhat shallow, and it could use a spark like Schroeder off the bench—even if it means pairing him with Jeff Teague.
I've got Schroeder emerging as the most coveted point guard in the class by the time his rookie season is over.
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